Oh Lord! As my Granddad was famous for saying in his Southern drawl. I just spent close to 10 hours (14 if you count travel) in one of the most grueling, difficult endeavors of my life. I won’t quite liken it to childbirth, but . . . I was asked to be a judge for a large Guild Show. And for some mixture of self-destructive impulses and curiosity I said yes. I have had a lot of my work judged, and I have often been mystified by the comments of the judges, which often seemed random and not at all focused on the issues I was aware of in the piece.
Talk about walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes.
I have so much sympathy now that I have lived the process. The first HUGE challenge is trying to get past the “I like this.” “I hate this.” initial reaction. Then the grueling part begins – you have to try to suspend judgement while judging . . . Meaning that you have to try to stick to the judging criteria in the most objective way possible. Criteria such as workmanship, finishing, texture, pattern and overall design. You also have to assign specific numbers from one to ten for each category. So, what’s the difference between a 5 and a 6? Also, what’s the difference between a “5” rug that took weeks to weave and a “5” scarf that took a day or two at most.
I feel like I was quite fair overall while expressing my aesthetic opinion a bit. I encourage anyone who wants to weave to weave away in any way that they find enjoyable – really! But I am a little frustrated by seeing so many (undeniably pretty, undeniably well-woven) snowflake twill scarves in silk. I did prefer the (undeniably attractive, undeniably well-woven) original pieces I saw. Again, if you want to weave – weave what you love. But if you want to enter a show – I think you should try to weave something original or if not an original draft, at least an original twist. After 10 hours looking at weaving – surprise me – entertain me:)) I also think there should be separate categories or even separarte shows for historic reproductions. Looking at BEAUTIFUL historic linens, woven and finished beautifully is a treat, but I don’t know what to do with them next to an original piece. A separate category would help.
At the end, the winners were truly the best pieces. Because there were quite a few categories we were able to shift pieces that we felt should win something into another appropriate category. Well woven, beautiful and with something interesting about them. So I will quote a David Foster Wallace short story title to conclude – “a supposedly fun thing I will never do again.” . . . (until next week – arrgh!)